Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Discussion of the proposal to accept MDC's offer of Wadham Lodge stadium as our home ground for next season.

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MattSee
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Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by MattSee » 01 Apr 2019, 00:16

This post has been set up to answer any questions relating to the proposal, which all members should receive on Monday, 1 April -- but no, it is not an April Fool's joke!

Please read the full proposal below, and then vote via the link in your email. And if you have any further questions, or discussion matters, post them below :-)


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Matchday Centres (MDC), our present landlords, have formally offered Clapton CFC the lease of the stadium at Wadham Lodge from next (2019/20) season.

The proposal here, which is supported by the Matchday, Men’s First Team and Ground Maintenance committees, is that we accept this offer.

Without disclosing the exact sums involved for reasons of commercial sensitivity, the terms on offer, following some negotiation, are as follows:
  • The whole package, once training pitch is included, is just £1,800 more than we would pay for the Stray Dog + training pitch next season.
  • The offer includes negotiated reductions of:
    • 36% off the standard hire for the stadium pitch on a 17-game package (which is the same contract we have this season)
    • 18% off the standard rate for a half-pitch training package (upgraded at Men’s First Team’s request from this season’s quarter pitch) for the season.
    • Scope for further reductions on small pitches for new activities, to be determined.
However, it is not only the price that makes this proposal so attractive. There are longer-term benefits from playing in the stadium while we continue to fight to get back to the Spotted Dog. And above all this is an opportunity too rare to turn down. This is hopefully all outlined below.


What does the stadium have that we don't already have?

To answer this we have to start with the assumption that we all share ambitions to see our club playing senior football - ie step 6 and higher.

The standard of our current facilities – specifically pitch dimensions, the lack of perimeter fencing, a proper turnstile and floodlights - is not good enough for senior football which means we would only be able to advance one more level in this ground.

In basic terms, the stadium has covered seating, toilets inside the ground, space for refreshments and other stalls inside the ground, plus greater security.

The stadium pitch has held up well this winter, and MDC have said they will be doing work on it this summer.

It is also worth adding that, should Clapton CFC climb just one more level, playing in the stadium could allow us to enter the FA Vase, something that would not apply if we continued to play at the Stray Dog.


Can't the required improvements be made to the Stray Dog?

Put simply, no. Matchday Centres looked into this before, but the size of the space and the proximity to houses, to name just two issues, mean it just isn't practical. For this reason the Stray Dog was only ever going to be a temporary measure.


Surely we can wait for another similar offer later on when we really need it?

This could be a very risky path.

It is true that we do not need improved facilities yet, even if we do get promoted this season. However, we will need a better ground if we ever want to move up more than one level – and it is very, very hard to come by grounds that do meet the criteria.

To give a frame of reference: when we were looking for a ground suitable for the kind of crowds we anticipated this season, we started by looking at proper football grounds. That meant almost every senior nonleague ground in north-east London. Not one had space for us. All already have the maximum two established clubs.

Take the Essex Senior League grounds for example.

Mile End Stadium has Tower Hamlets and Sporting Bengal. Cricklefields has Ilford and Barkingside. West Essex are lodging at Barking. The only exception was at Redbridge and even they share with Newbury Forest, a club that, while step 6, are nonetheless well established. None of those clubs are moving out any time soon. Plus the Terence MacMillan stadium in Newham is being bulldozed right now, creating two extra local clubs seeking a home.

Elsewhere we have Haringey Borough, Dagenham & Redbridge, Hornchurch, Romford and Aveley – all probably too far outside our catchment area, but all double-booked anyway.

It is also worth noting that there are currently two London ESL clubs (Enfield and Woodford) currently sharing Harlow Town’s 4G surface (the ESL has mysteriously waived the two-max rule for this season...). We can expect at least one of these to be in the market for a ground closer to their roots this summer.

Of course, this leaves two glaring omissions: the Old Spotted Dog is obviously out of the question at present(!). So that leaves Wadham Lodge.


And why is the stadium suddenly available?

It is currently home to two ESL clubs, but Matchday Centres have served notice to one of the clubs for next season. And as an existing customer, we have been given first refusal.


What's so great about Wadham Lodge?

Not only is this an unusual opportunity but arguably, given the relationship we have built with Matchday Centres (who have done all they can and more to meet our needs since we moved in) and the facilities that come with the pitch (proper changing rooms, training pitches and a decent bar and hall), aside from the Dog itself, there couldn't be a better home for us.

In short, this is an offer that has materialised earlier than perhaps we need it, but which we should take now that it has because another like it probably will not materialise any time soon. Plus as outlined above it won't cost us much more.


What about the money and effort we spent on the Stray Dog?

There's no easy reply to this. We have made the Stray Dog into something special in a very short time, and all involved can be rightly proud. Plus the pitch has held up really well.

Nevertheless it is a limited ground (see above), and as our friendly at Walthamstow FC (not to mention several Clapton FC away games there down the years) have shown we can make the tin sheds at the Lodge every bit as noisy and colourful. Plus with the new teams now being looked into by our Development Committee, who's to say we won't still have a stake in the Stray Dog?

With regards to the stand we built (and paid for), we have a few options. As per the original proposal by Ground Maintenance, the materials could be resold, recouping much (around £4k) of the outlay we made to build it; we also received enquires from other clubs about buying the stand.

Or we might want to look into keeping the materials for future use (at the Spotted Dog, even), or even leaving the stand in the Stray Dog - it does increase the value of the ground to MDC. This would be something we could consider separately to ensure the most prudent solution for the club.


What if we say no?

Between the exiled east London clubs and the new competition for senior grounds created by the new step 6 league, Wadham Lodge would be snapped up. And Clapton CFC’s advancement would probably depend completely on getting the keys to the Spotted Dog. Should that prove an even lengthier struggle than we expect, we could be stuck playing away games in playing fields with zero fan facilities in West London for the foreseeable future.

By accepting it we would at least have the insurance of having our progress in our own hands and at a stable, welcoming place to continue to grow our club unhindered.

The members are the Club, and the Old Spotted Dog is our true home. Until we get back to E7, we should consider every opportunity to allow the club to grow sustainably.

Members can vote on this proposal via the link in your email.

SKENG
Posts: 2
Joined: 01 Apr 2019, 11:56

Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by SKENG » 01 Apr 2019, 12:10

"In short, this is an offer that has materialised earlier than perhaps we need it, but which we should take now that it has because another like it probably will not materialise any time soon."

Found it a little disconcerting that something being put to a vote was preceded by a long-form FAQ that was in favour of the move, and actively encouraged people to vote for it.

By the by, one of the added extras we would get at the new stadium is "greater security". Does that roughly translate to "greater restrictions on what we can and can't do while watching football", or is this purely an outside-the-ground thing?

"...we have to start with the assumption that we all share ambitions to see our club playing senior football - ie step 6 and higher."

I'm not sure that's a great assumption to start with. My own personal position on this has changed over the course of the season, seeing the standard we're playing at, the standard of the MCPL (Deportivo Galicia are bloody good and are mid-table), and all the fun we're having along the way. I wouldn't want to sacrifice any amount of that fun, on-pitch development or freedom that comes with playing amateur football, having a home ground to call our own and being able to dictate for ourselves what we permit on those premises (bringing your own beer in, smoking).

I think the membership needs a bit more information and assurance on these issues before casting votes. I worry that if they don't feel they need that assurance, they may feel differently later on.
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MattSee
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Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by MattSee » 01 Apr 2019, 13:34

Thanks for your post SKENG.

I see no reason at all why the match-going experience will change as a result of changing grounds. The only difference will be that perhaps people enter via a turnstile, but even that is up for discussion.

The Matchday committee (of which I am a member) has ensured that people are able to enjoy the game free of any interference. I am glad you seem to welcome how we have done this. There is no reason for this to cease to be the case as a result of moving into the stadium, and I encourage members to join the Matchday committee to ensure we continue to do this the right way.

In terms of security, we currently hire doormen, as you will have seen at the Stray Dog. They remain, at our request, outside the ground and are there basically as an extra resource to help us deal with any folks who might seek to take advantage of our open door (and free entry) policy and cause disturbance of some sort. Happily we have had no reason for them to take any action yet, but the same considerations that led us to hire them (ie largely around the club and much of its support displaying its political values openly) will always apply. The greater security referred to in the proposal is purely about making *that* job easier, and not about any tightening of expectations made of supporters.

It should be noted, though, it is already the case at the Stray Dog that fans are not allowed to bring in their own booze. This relates to Matchday Centres' license, and is why they now sell cans inside the ground. The Stray Dog is subject to the same considerations as the stadium in this regard, so again - by moving, nothing would change.

I take your point about finding a balance between the on-pitch development and the supporter experience, and concerns (if I read you right) that as clubs progress, the greater the restrictions on fans get. That certainly applies quite a bit further up the football pyramid, it's true. However, on the flipside it is also true that, at the level we currently play, as good as our home experience is thanks to our members' graft and the good fortune of finding the Stray Dog, it also follows that the facilities at away games have often been less than basic. We have had at least three games so far (and at least one more remaining) where fans have been stood in fields with no toilets, and zero consideration for issues of accessibility.

I hope this addresses your questions.

SKENG
Posts: 2
Joined: 01 Apr 2019, 11:56

Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by SKENG » 01 Apr 2019, 17:07

Thanks, Matt. Alleviated some concerns.

As long as we don't end up placing restrictions upon ourselves in the name of growth, I'll be on board with the general direction of travel.

It'd be nice if the blurbs attached to votes were more neutral, giving a genuine Yes/No proposition.

For example:

"What about the money and effort we spent on the Stray Dog?

There's no easy reply to this."

There is a fairly easy reply to this: That the work put in and money spent only applied to ~15 home matches and will now be enjoyed by another club/Match Day Centres - though the stand money is obviously mostly recoupable.

At the moment, those blurbs present the viewpoint of 'we' or 'us', giving the impression that 'the club' has an opinion on what decision should be made when those terms can only be used when talking about the entire membership and not a single committee, member or group.

Keithtilson
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Joined: 01 Apr 2019, 21:51

Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by Keithtilson » 01 Apr 2019, 21:56

Yes, I say go for it !!

lazbot
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Joined: 01 Apr 2019, 14:56

Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by lazbot » 02 Apr 2019, 10:48

Hi all seems timely and great news..
re. stand seems sensible to keep in place.. we still have the materials, it may be used by others (including ourselves) and it seems a more neighbourly way of behaving

SPhoenix
Posts: 2
Joined: 30 Sep 2018, 19:43

Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by SPhoenix » 02 Apr 2019, 12:50

Yeah, all sounds great to me and we might not get an opportunity like this so easily if needed in the future. It will be a great attraction for next year's team and will help us to continue to generate a great atmosphere as it's one of the better grounds which we have always enjoyed going to.

Also, could we potentially use the 'Stray Dog' for womens' team home fixtures if we manage to get this sorted by next season?
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superbird5000
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Joined: 08 Nov 2018, 13:05

Re: Proposal re: ground hire for 2019/20 season

Post by superbird5000 » 16 Apr 2019, 10:41

Has there been any decision from the members on this?
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